In last month’s blog post, we met Mrs. Ann Vandersypen, a patient who came to MIIGS after she began experiencing lower extremity pain and a loss of mobility. After a consultation with Dr. Rice, it was determined that Mrs. Vandersypen indeed was suffering from PVD with several arterial blockages in her legs. Read on below to follow Mrs. Vandersypen’s journey to a better quality of life.
Thanks to continual advances in medical science, patients today are able to receive surgical treatment that is incredibly precise, minimally invasive and quick to heal. However, even for these new less invasive surgical procedures, such as interventional radiology surgery, there is still much patients can do to speed up and improve their own surgery recovery.
Life’s Common Problems
Serious health issues can be scary any day of the week. When they cause pain and affect an individual’s ability to move and enjoy life, fear levels only increase. Circulatory issues can be particularly disturbing because without blood’s life-sustaining oxygen and other nutrients, tissues suffer, and the mind quickly conjures worst-case scenarios. This is exactly what one of our patients was experiencing.
Peripheral vascular disease (PVD), also known as peripheral arterial disease (PAD) is a common condition in up to 20 percent of Americans over the age of 65. PVD is caused by a buildup of cholesterol and scar tissue in the arteries that turns into plaque. This plaque buildup is called atherosclerosis or "hardening of the arteries." Plaque clogs the arteries and restricts blood flow to the legs.
What Is PVD?
Peripheral vascular disease, or PVD, is a common disease. It is termed peripheral because it encompasses all the blood vessels in the body except those of the heart and brain. National Institutes of Health statistics cite one in 20 Americans age 50 and older have PVD, and for those age 65 or older, the ratio increases. PVD has additional labels:
Varicose veins and spider veins are two common terms used for an umbrella condition called "venous insufficiency." While both women and men can be affected, the conditions typically affect more women than men. It is estimated that 25 percent of adults today suffer from either one or both conditions.
What are the Causes?
Spider and varicose vein causes are frequently attributed to pregnancy, and also to jobs that require many hours of standing and walking or movement. Use of medical hormone therapy (birth control, menopause), abdominal pressure (obesity, tumors, constipation, even tight garments), prior skin trauma (including injury and over-exposure to UV) and heredity also factor in. Prior invasive vein surgery can also be implicated.
How Do These Conditions Form?
These conditions often begin with a decrease in circulation from the lower arterial system towards the heart. As blood pools in the leg area, this causes the discoloration and sometimes swelling that characterizes spider and varicose veins.
What are the Early Warning Signs?
Vein problems may seem merely cosmetic to the outsider, but for many sufferers, the issues may be a sign of much larger medical conditions. One such condition is called venous insufficiency, and is caused by reduced blood flow in the legs. This results in painful pooling of blood in veins, leading to varicose veins. This condition affects almost half the population over 50 years of age, and a quarter of all adults.
Patients suffering from a variety of symptoms such as leg pains, cramping, high cholesterol, diabetes, hypertension, burning or throbbing sensations in their muscle tissue, or pain experienced while resting, will often find themselves in need of surgical corrections. Sufferers of peripheral vascular disease (PVD), varicose or spider veins, or other ailments may require treatment. In the past, high-risk surgeries were the only option, but modern, minimally invasive methods have changed patient treatment dramatically.
Interventional radiology utilizes the most advanced medical imaging equipment and uses the latest, minimally invasive techniques. Rather than the large incisions of traditional surgery, these methods allow the entrance of tiny probes and cameras, which are both capable of gathering all necessary information about the patient's ailments, as well as being used to administer treatment. The applications of interventional radiology are also used in the treatment of a variety of diseases and health conditions.
Interventional radiologists are meticulously trained at interpreting every type of medical imagery, including:
- Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI)
- Computed tomography (CT)
Correctly analyzing images allows specialists to make accurate diagnoses, and deliver effective treatments for a wide range of illnesses without resorting to invasive surgical methods. Access to pin-point imagery allows targeted treatments that are typically less risky, less painful, and take less time to recover from.
One out of every two men suffer with varicose veins, according to a British study. Varicose veins are veins near the skin's surface that are enlarged and twisted. They are commonly found in the ankles and legs. While the veins aren't usually painful or dangerous, sometimes they can lead to other health issues. The problem starts when veins and valves in the legs become weakened. The valves help the blood flow from the legs up towards the heart. As people age, the valves and veins can become weak, blood collects in the legs, pressure starts to build, and the weak veins develop a blue tint.
Besides genetics and age, the condition can be caused by standing for long periods, or being overweight. Increased pressure on the legs can lead some veins to become large and twisted. Many men don't have any discomfort and usually only suffer mild symptoms from the condition. For many the main issue is the way the veins look and people's reaction to seeing them. This can make men feel particularly self-conscious.